usain_bolt.jpgBEIJING _ Usain Bolt, the world-record holder in the 100-meter dash, blazed to victory, Olympic gold and a new world record in a stunning 9.69 seconds on Saturday.

The 21-year-old Jamaican ran away from Richard Thompson of Trinidad and Tobago, the silver medalist, by two tenths of a second (9.89). South Florida’s own Walter Dix finished third to capture the bronze in 9.91 seconds.

Bolt is the first sprinter to set the world record in the Olympics since Donovan Bailey ran 9.84 at the 1996 Atlanta Games.

Asafa Powell, the Jamaican who held the world record for three years before Bolt grabbed it with a 9.72 clocking in May, continued to fade in big races, finishing fifth Saturday for the second time in an Olympic final.

American Tyson Gay, who was expected to be the third serious challenger for the gold medal along with Powell, was eliminated after finishing fifth in his semifinal race.

Because of his tall, 6-foot-5 frame and relatively slow start, Bolt specialized in the 200 meters before this year. He will be the favorite again to win that event next week. It would be the first time a man has won Olympic gold in the 100 and 200 meters since Carl Lewis did it in 1984.

Bolt had a huge lead halfway through the race on Saturday. Shooting forward, he looked to his right for challengers, but could only see a group of photographers, according to several news reports.

Onlookers reported that, with his Olympic victory secure, Bolt actually slowed down at the end of the race, suggesting he could have had an even faster time if he had run at full speed all the way to the finish line.

Pictured above is Usain Bolt.